The Creating of “New Heavens and a New Earth”
1. (a) Why are we today interested in a dream had by Emperor Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon? (b) In reminding the emperor of the details of the dream, what did Daniel say about a particular “stone” and what it would accomplish?
WHAT the imperial ruler of the Babylonian World Power saw in a prophetic dream more than two thousand five hundred years ago, we are seeing fulfilled today! That God-sent dream helps us to understand what is taking place in our time of deepening world distress. Thankful can we be that this dream, which Emperor Nebuchadnezzar completely forgot beyond recall, was revealed to the prophet Daniel for him to recall and interpret with Almighty God’s help to the much-disturbed emperor. In reaching the climax of his account of the dream “image” that pictured the succession of political superpowers of world history, from the Babylonian Empire to the Anglo-American Dual World Power of today, Daniel went on to say:
“You kept on looking until a stone was cut out not by hands, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and of molded clay and crushed them. At that time the iron, the molded clay, the copper, the silver and the gold were, all together, crushed and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away so that no trace at all was found of them. And as for the stone that struck the image, it became a large mountain and filled the whole earth.”—Daniel 2:34, 35.
2. What was symbolized by that “stone”?
2 There can be no other explanation of the matter. That “stone” symbolized the Messianic kingdom in the hands of the anointed Son of the Sovereign Lord of the universe, Jehovah God.
3. Explain the connections of this Messianic kingdom with King David, also how the kingdom took on a spiritual aspect.
3 This Messianic kingdom had its roots in the earthly kingdom of David, whom Jehovah caused to be anointed as king over the nation of Israel. The seat of his government came to be, finally, Jerusalem or Zion. With him Jehovah God made a covenant for the Messianic kingdom to continue in his family line and to become an everlasting kingdom. In due time this kingdom took on the aspect of a spiritual kingdom when David’s Permanent Heir arrived on the earthly scene. This was because the heavenly Son of God was miraculously born as Jesus into the royal line of David. By taking on this natural connection, he became the natural heir of the title to the throne of King David. (Matthew 1:1 through 2:6) In harmony with this, immediately after Jesus was baptized in water at the age of thirty years, Jehovah God anointed him with holy spirit to be future King over Israel, “the house of Jacob.” God also begot him to be a spiritual Son of God and acknowledged him as such.—Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 1:32, 33; 3:21-23; Acts 10:38.
4. How did the Permanent Heir of David actually become a king in the spirit realm?
4 Jesus Christ died as a martyr for preaching the kingdom of God, “the kingdom of the heavens.” He died in the flesh, as a perfect human sacrifice; but, says the apostle Peter, “Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) Israel, “the house of Jacob,” was therefore to have a heavenly king over it, an invisible spirit king, namely, the resurrected Jesus Christ, immortal in the heavens. (Romans 1:3, 4) Thus the resurrected Jesus Christ is the Permanent Heir or Kingly Heir of David, and his kingdom is an everlasting one. This Messianic kingdom is the one that is cut out of the “mountain” of Jehovah’s sovereignty without help of human hands.
5. (a) When was the symbolic “stone” cut out of the mountain? (b) When the “stone” was cut out and sent on its way against the symbolic “image,” what time period began for this wicked earthly system of things?
5 When was this royal “stone” cut out and sent on its way against the symbolic “image” of earthly world powers? It was “cut out” at the end of the Gentile Times about October 4/5, 1914, when Jehovah, the King-Maker, installed the resurrected Jesus Christ as empowered King in the heavens. (Luke 21:24; Psalm 2:1-6; Revelation 11:15; 12:5-10) Then it was that the prophetic words of Psalm 110:2 applied to the installed Jesus Christ: “The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.’” For that reason the “time of the end” began for this wicked earthly system of things. (Daniel 12:4) Correspondingly, the things foretold by Jesus Christ to happen during the “conclusion of the system of things” have been taking place since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914.—Matthew 24:3 through 25:33.
6. (a) What is significant about the fact that the stone strikes the image “on its feet of iron and of molded clay”? (b) When does this stone strike the symbolic “image”?
6 The fact that, in the king’s dream, the stone strikes the manlike image “on its feet of iron and of molded clay” is significant. It shows that the Messianic kingdom of God strikes the real world-power “image” in the days of the Seventh World Power, the Anglo-American Dual World Power, in the final days thereof. This is the time when human rulerships of this world are divided between the imperial ironlike governments and the radical claylike governments. The two kinds do not mix. The symbolic “image” is not struck at the beginning of the now imminent “great tribulation,” at the time when religious Babylon the Great is destroyed. Rather, it is struck thereafter in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 7:14; 16:14, 16; 17:1-18; 18:20—19:3 through 19:3) It is then that the worldly nations, no longer under the religious influence of Babylon the Great, stand unitedly in outright, declared opposition to the Universal Sovereignty of Jehovah God and his Messianic kingdom.
7. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, is the “stone” shown as striking and crushing rulers in the spirit realm?
7 Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream does not show the “stone” or the Messianic kingdom as striking against political enemies in the invisible spirit heavens, such as the spirit “prince of the royal realm of Persia” and the spirit “prince of Greece.” (Daniel 10:13, 20) The royal “stone” strikes at something earthly, visible, human, namely, the political governments of this world, whether imperial, democratic, radical, socialistic or communistic.
8 So, too, Revelation 17:12-14 reveals the royal Messianic “stone” as fighting against the militarized representatives of the Eighth World Power, the United Nations, then rid of any domination by Babylon the Great: “These will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them.” Likewise, the detailed account of the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon as given in Revelation 19:11-21 reveals that the royal Messianic “stone” moves in warfare, not against spirit forces in the invisible heavens, but against the worldwide political system on earth, with all its human rulers and their armies, and henchmen.
9. How will all this warfare affect the inhabited earth?
9 This warfare results in the worst time of distress that the inhabited earth ever experiences. In foretelling this, Daniel 12:1 says: “And during that time [of the end] Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people [Daniel’s people, Israel]. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.”
10. (a) At the climax of the “day of Jehovah,” what will happen to the symbolic “image”? (b) When is it that Satan and his demons are to be chained and hurled into the abyss?
10 Then it is that the final part of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is fulfilled, that the “stone . . . crushed the iron, the copper, the molded clay, the silver and the gold.” These substances were, “all together, crushed and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away so that no trace at all was found of them.” (Daniel 2:45, 35) That is the climax of the “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” That day is the “day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” Also, the “earth and the works in it will be discovered [as combustible].” (2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12) It is first after this “destruction of the ungodly men,” according to the book of Revelation, that Satan the Devil and his demon angels are chained and hurled into the abyss for a thousand years. This binding and abyssing of them is pictured as occurring after and separate from the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon.—Revelation 19:11 through 20:3.
11. How do the Scriptures show who have been the invisible power behind the governmental “heavens” among men?
11 It is true that Satan the Devil has been what Jesus Christ called him, “the ruler of this world.” (John 14:30; 16:11) Besides that, the apostle Paul referred to Satan the Devil as “the god of this system of things” and as “the ruler of the authority of the air.” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2) Paul also said that Christians have a wrestling match with the “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Undeniably they have been the controllers and the invisible power behind those governmental “heavens” among men.—Revelation 13:1, 2; Luke 4:5-7.
12. (a) Does the description found at 2 Peter 3:10-12 match what happens to Satan and his demons when they are hurled into the abyss? (b) What does their being bound and abyssed mean?
12 Nevertheless, it remains true that Satan and his demon angels do not suffer the dissolution that is described in 2 Peter 3:10-12. They are not destroyed in the “great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. Thereafter they are simply put out of the way in a deactivated state, in the abyss, out of reach of the earth. The binding and abyssing of these wicked spirit forces are not described as a fight or war, in the way that the ousting of Satan and his demon angels from heaven is described.—Revelation 12:7-13.
“NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH” AWAITED
13. To what is it that Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are now looking forward with eager anticipation?
13 Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are now doing more than “keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah” during which the symbolic “heavens,” “elements,” and “earth and the works in it” are dissolved, destroyed. They are looking forward eagerly in faith to what immediately follows this “day” of the dissolution of this system of things and the abyssing of Satan and his demon angels. They say with the apostle Peter: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13.
14. How does the fulfillment of that promise recorded by Peter fit in with the fulfillment of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
14 The coming in of the “new heavens and a new earth” is where the fulfillment of the final part of Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream occurs, namely: “And as for the stone that struck the image, it became a large mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35) In this way the heavenly Messianic kingdom is pictured as a mountain on the earth, ‘filling the whole earth.’
15, 16. In what way are the new heavens and a new earth “according to his promise,” that is, Jehovah’s promise?
15 The apostle Peter says that the awaited “new heavens and a new earth” are “according to his promise,” the promise of Jehovah, to whom Peter made reference in the preceding verse. A divine promise of this kind, in which the expression used by Peter is specifically found, is located in Isaiah 65:17, 18 and Isa 66:22. There it is written under divine inspiration:
16 “For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation.” “‘For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making are standing before me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘so the offspring of you people and the name of you people will keep standing.’”
17. Where and when did that prophecy of Isaiah have a small-scale fulfillment?
17 This prophecy of Isaiah, written about 732 B.C.E., although applied by the apostle Peter to the future, had a small-scale or miniature fulfillment a couple of centuries after Isaiah’s prophecy. This was when the seventy years of desolation and sabbathkeeping of the land of Judah and of Jerusalem came to an end and a faithful remnant of exiled Jews returned from Babylon to their God-given homeland in 537 B.C.E. Jerusalem was rebuilt and its temple was reconstructed by the year 515 B.C.E., on the third day of the month Adar. (Ezra 6:13-22) In the year 455 B.C.E. the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt under the governorship of Nehemiah, and this was the occasion of a joyful celebration. (Nehemiah 6:15) In course of time Jerusalem again became a world-renowned city.—Daniel 9:24, 25.
18. In that miniature fulfillment, what were the “new heavens”?
18 In this miniature fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the “new heavens” were the new righteous government of Governor Zerubbabel and his successors. This government with its headquarters at the restored Jerusalem replaced the corrupted government of Kings Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, which was overturned by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. Governor Zerubbabel was used as the type of the Greater Zerubbabel in the following prophecy of Haggai 2:23: “‘In that day,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, ‘I shall take you, O Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, my servant,’ is the utterance of Jehovah; ‘and I shall certainly set you as a seal ring, because you are the one whom I have chosen,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.”
19. (a) What was the “new earth” back then? (b) Was the prophecy fulfilled to its complete extent there in the reinhabited land of Judah?
19 Those typical “new heavens” that spread out as a government over the reinhabited land of Judah had a “new earth” beneath them. Such “new earth” was the cleansed, restored Jewish remnant that had left Babylon and that rebuilt Jerusalem and its holy temple through which to render pure Mosaic Law worship to Jehovah in harmony with His covenant. (Isaiah 66:8) Inasmuch as that ancient fulfillment of the prophecy was merely an illustrative, small-scale fulfillment, it was only to a limited extent that the prophecy concerning the living conditions under the “new heavens” and in the “new earth” was realized: “‘They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain,’ Jehovah has said.” (Isaiah 65:19-25) The “new heavens” and the “new earth” in the larger-scale fulfillment of Isaiah 66:22 were the ones that were to remain standing before Jehovah God permanently.
20, 21. (a) What are the “new heavens” that we are awaiting according to God’s promise? (b) How does the Messianic kingdom become ‘a large mountain that fills the whole earth,’ as foretold by Daniel?
20 So, the “new heavens” that Jehovah’s Christian witnesses were long awaiting according to His promise are realized in the Messianic kingdom of God, in the hands of the Permanent Heir of King David. Since this kingdom is the royal “stone” that crushes all the earthly kings and their governments in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, it leaves no human political rulership existent upon our earthly globe. Hence, that stonelike kingdom of the Messiah must become like a great mountain that fills and covers the whole earth. Does this mean that the Israelite kingdom of David will be reestablished by Christ right here on the earth? No! There will not be even an earthly manifestation of the kingdom of David on the surface of the earth. Jesus Christ, his Permanent Heir, will not reign in the flesh, visibly, in a city of Jerusalem over in the Middle East.
21 His seat of government will be the “city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.” (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1) His mountainlike government takes the place of all the human political governments that were the symbolic “heavens” of the old system of things. (Isaiah 34:3-5) Thus there will be a new governmental “heavens” that will actually be in the invisible, spirit heavens.
22, 23. (a) How will Jesus Christ eliminate the Satanic influence that has dominated the governmental “heavens” of this system of things? (b) Why is the promise of “new heavens” especially precious to those who are spirit-anointed Christians? (c) In Revelation 21:1-4, what are the “former heaven,” the “former earth” and the “sea,” to which reference is made, and what replaces them?
22 Satan the Devil has been the invisible “ruler” who has dominated those governmental “heavens” of this system of things on earth. The destructive “fire” of the “day of Jehovah” will dissolve, destroy, those governmental “heavens” and will leave Satan the Devil without such “heavens” over which he has dominated for millenniums. (Revelation 13:1, 2; 19:19-21) He will certainly not rule over the “new heavens.” His invisible position of rule over things earthly will be replaced by the invisible superhuman rule of David’s Permanent Heir, Jesus Christ, who, by resurrection from the dead, was made an immortal, incorruptible spirit vastly more powerful than Satan the Devil and all his demon angels. Satan and his angels are to be removed from their location in the neighborhood of the earth under restraint and are to be imprisoned in the abyss from which they can exercise no control over any “heavens” that dominate the earth. (Revelation 20:1-3) Since Jesus Christ is now a heavenly spirit King, his “new heavens” will be a heavens in a very literal sense. No other governmental heavens will exist. The apostle Peter and fellow anointed, spirit-begotten Christians could await with eager expectation the establishment of those promised “new heavens.” Why? Because they have the ‘precious and very grand promise’ from God that they will, if faithful to the death, form a part of those “new heavens” with Jesus Christ. They are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:4; Romans 8:16, 17) The whole congregation of them will make up the queenly “bride” of the King Jesus Christ. Thus, more than eight centuries after God used Isaiah to prophesy about the “new heavens and a new earth,” God gave a further promise of such glorious things by the apostle John, who wrote:
23 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven [the political governments along with Satan and his demon angels] and the former earth [ungodly human society] had passed away, and the sea [restless, agitated masses of mankind] is no more. I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’ . . . He spoke with me and said: ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ So he carried me away in the power of the spirit to a great and lofty mountain, and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”—Revelation 21:1-4, 9, 10.
A RIGHTEOUS “NEW EARTH”
24. What will the “great crowd” be in the “new earth,” and with what favorable circumstances will they set to work?
24 With eager anticipation, the “great crowd” of prospective survivors of the “great tribulation” are also awaiting the “new heavens and a new earth.” This “new earth” will be the new human society living under the “new heavens.” (Revelation 7:9-14) Just as Noah and his family survived the global deluge and formed the nucleus of the new human society on earth, so the “great crowd” will survive the approaching “great tribulation” and will form the permanent nucleus of the new human society, the symbolic “new earth.” They will start off in the spiritual paradise that survives the “great tribulation” with them, but they will then set themselves to the work of converting the literal earth into a paradise all around the globe. Animals, wild and domestic, will be at peace with them.
25. How will the situation then be far more favorable than was that of the restored Israelites when Isaiah’s prophecy had its miniature fulfillment?
25 The privilege of then living on the cleansed earth without pollution under the righteous “new heavens” will be one without compare, far surpassing what the restored Israelites experienced in the miniature fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in the Persian province of Judah. Oh, just think of living on earth when the “former things” have passed away, when death will be no more, when mourning over dead ones will be no more, neither outcry nor pain of heart!
26. At that time, what will Jehovah do even on behalf of the dead?
26 Under the reign of the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ, and his Kingdom joint heirs, the members of the “great crowd” will be on their way to endless life in a global paradise of beauty, plenty, happiness and peace. There will be no need to mourn over dead loved ones, for by means of the “new heavens” Almighty God Jehovah will bring about a resurrection of the human dead for whom the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ avails. (John 11:25, 26; 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:11-14) These resurrected ones, including the men and women of faith from Abel to John the Baptist, will have the opportunity of becoming part of that “new earth.”
27. (a) How can we be sure that, despite the bleakness of world conditions, there will really be such a salvation of mankind? (b) What do we individually need to do now to prepare to benefit from that salvation?
27 It seems almost unbelievable that such a heart-consoling prospect should be immediately ahead of us of this generation. And yet it is! World conditions never looked blacker. World distress is deepening. Man’s helplessness becomes more and more evident. Relief from human sources becomes impossible. Still there will be a salvation of mankind out of earth’s distress at its worst. The human family will not die off. It will not be killed off. There will be those of the human family who will emerge from the world distress and pass into a righteous new order in which suchlike world distress will never rise again. We have Almighty God’s own word for that. Our now living with full faith in that divine word will prepare the way for us to be saved out of the world distress. That salvation is at hand!—Matthew 24:21, 22; Nahum 1:9.